Tag Archives: George Washington University

Heroes for scientific knowledge

By Benjamin Caballero MS, PhD Candidate, Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

caballeroAlthough science is perceived to have a fundamental role in addressing major problems of modern society — from climate change to global healthcare — the persistent dwindling of its funding by government agencies is a global trend.  It seems that the betterment of humankind is in jeopardy if this trend continues. But who is responsible for this? And more importantly, how can it be changed?

During the “Research Matters Communications Workshop for Early Career Scientists” at the George Washington University (GW) on October 9 organized by Research!America, Elsevier, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,  Society for Neuroscience and GW, this was among many questions sought to be answered. Nearly 100 scientists in different career stages felt that it was us, scientists, responsible for why science is poorly understood by general audiences, hence it is not a priority when decisions to fund it are made by elected officials.  Scientists need to understand that the work performed cannot stay in laboratories. We need to cogently communicate our research, its importance and the implications that could have in the future to a broad public. We need to engage ourselves with society, advocacy and public outreach to explain why basic research is essential for the health and economic prosperity of every man, woman and child.  This will be the first crucial step for science to become more engaged in the public agenda and away from the ivory tower. Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Does Congress care if Nobel laureates of the future are put at risk?

Dear Research Advocate:

Like most Americans, we are alarmed by the ongoing government shutdown. Since the shutdown began, I have been in Georgia, Massachusetts and Ohio, speaking to business and academic leaders, state and local elected officials, philanthropic leaders, and working scientists. Everyone is outraged! Clearly, biomedical and health research — already compromised via sequestration — is not the only priority placed at risk by the impasse, but it is a critical one. From limiting access to clinical trials to undermining the ability to protect our food supply or investigate disease outbreaks, Americans are put at unnecessary risk when government employees are furloughed. We sent letters at the end of last week to Members of Congress and the president, urging action. We received responses from offices on both sides of the aisle: Many spoke passionately of their support for medical research; some hewed the party line; others lamented the budget impasse.

We are doing everything we can to keep the spotlight on the damage done to medical and health research when the government is shut down. When the public and its policy makers look back on the 2013 shutdown, we want them to remember which government functions most tellingly exemplified the cost — fiscal and societal — our nation incurs when the ability to function is derailed. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley- Warning: A government shutdown could be dangerous to your health

Dear Research Advocate:

Congress is on the brink of forcing a government shutdown on Tuesday, October 1. The implications of a shutdown are being subsumed by coverage of the political theater taking place. That is an injustice to Americans, who will be affected.  History is illustrative on this point.

During the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns, the NIH turned away new patients at the Clinical Center. Research studies housed at federal institutions ceased for the duration of the shutdown; researchers and leaders of industry, academia as well as in government agencies were unable to plan effectively, wasting time and money; the CDC was forced to stop disease surveillance programs, leaving us unacceptably vulnerable to emerging health threats and even pandemics; NSF could not release grant funds, resulting in a backlog of thousands of proposals, and those were just a few of numerous effects. Compounding the impact this time around is the costly toll that sequestration — on top of a decade of stagnant funding — has already taken in undermining the promise of research and innovation.

A recent New York Times op-ed by Thomas Friedman that was published in other newspapers underscored for me exactly how high the stakes are right now, and a Roll Call op-ed by Morton Kondracke provides additional context.  These two voices are prominent among this week’s sampling from an increasing number of informed individuals who are articulating what all the trends show:  the US is on a path to scientific, and potentially general, decline.  Add to this that the US is already ranked far below where we should and aspire to be in health indicators.  The question is:  why are these twin realities not receiving more attention from our elected officials? Too few Americans are demanding common sense from Washington; please raise your voice louder and longer, and do it now. Then urge everyone in your network to do the same.  Help us deliver this message to your members of Congress — we want #curesnotcuts! Continue reading →

Raising Awareness of PTSD Throughout June

PTSDToday is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Screening Day, one of the key days in National PTSD Awareness Month. If you think you might be suffering from PTSD, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD is an excellent resource to consult.

And that makes sense: PTSD is most commonly associated with the military. Troops returning from far-flung theaters, having experienced the uncensored horrors of war, are prime candidates to develop PTSD. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — have been diagnosed with PTSD.

PTSD is hardly limited to the military. Victims of abuse or assault and people closely affected by serious accidents or natural disasters are also most likely to develop PTSD. (If you’re looking for more background, our friends Josh and Chuck at “Stuff You Should Know” produced a podcast on PTSD in late May.) Continue reading →